To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that all foster carers are paid (a) the national minimum allowance or (b) more than the national minimum allowance for their services.
7 March 2022
The Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards (NMS), issued under the Care Standards Act 2000, set out the expectations that are placed on foster parents and their agencies, and can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/192705/NMS_Fostering_Services.pdf. The department is clear that no one should be ‘out of pocket’ because of their fostering role and expect all foster parents to receive at least the national minimum allowance (NMA) plus any agreed expenses to cover the full cost of caring for each child placed with them (standard 28). Fostering agencies and local authorities are regulated/inspected by Ofsted who can assess compliance with the NMS as part of their inspection of providers.
The NMA was developed by calculating the cost of caring for a birth child and accounting for the additional cost of caring for a foster child. The current rates are valid until 6 April 2022. New rates for the 2022/23 financial year will be published shortly.
Foster carers also receive qualifying care relief that is made up of two parts: tax exemption on the first £10,000 shared equally among any foster carers in the same household, and tax relief for every week a child is in their care.
The payments and benefits foster carers receive to cover the costs of caring for a child were most recently reviewed as part of the Foster Care in England report, Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers's 2018 review of the fostering system in England. The report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foster-care-in-england. As set out in the government’s response, Fostering Better Outcomes, the department believes that the current tax and benefits arrangements offer the best support to foster parents. The response can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fostering-better-outcomes. Foster parents have different statuses for tax and benefits purposes. This has consciously been done to ensure that they get the best support these systems can offer for their unique circumstances.